The UK’s “economic wellbeing” is under threat from cybercrime, according to the director of GCHQ, the government’s listening station.
Writing in The Times, Iain Lobban said that sensitive data from defence, technology and engineering companies had been targeted, adding that a “significant but unsuccessful” cyber attack had taken place.
“I can attest to attempts to steal British ideas and designs – in the IT, technology, defence, engineering and energy sectors, as well as other industries – to gain commercial advantage or to profit from secret knowledge of contractual arrangements,” Lobban wrote.
Citizens’ details are also at risk, with cybercriminals stealing financial details and then selling them online, sometimes for as little as 70p, Lobban wrote.
“We are witnessing the development of a global criminal marketplace – a parallel black economy where cyber dollars are traded in exchange for UK citizens’ credit card details. Tackling cybercrime matters, and it is a very real threat to our prosperity.”
Lobban’s comments come in the same week as London’s Conference on Cyberspace, hosted by Foreign Secretary William Hague on 1 and 2 November. In announcing the conference, Hague said that countries must find a way to protect the Internet and its social and economic benefits without stifling its potential.